Aggie Interns Vital to Success of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

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By: Mollie Lastovica

For most, Spring means warmer weather, bright colors and eager anticipation of summer. However, for the city of Houston, the Spring represents a step back in time and rebirth of western heritage through the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. With that comes a  longstanding relationship with Texas A&M University. Over 100 students within the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications worked as interns for the Show between Feb. 25 and March 17.

“We have been partnering with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo since about 1974,” said Senior Lecturer and Internship Coordinator Deborah Dunsford, Ph.D. “A PR firm had been writing all of their press releases but had no agriculture knowledge so LeRoy Schaffer, an agricultural journalism graduate and Show employee suggested that Aggies write the releases. We started off just writing releases and around the 1980’s started helping with video. In the early 2000’s we started doing AgVenture and Fun on the Farm.”

This year, students had the opportunity to do internships in editorial, social media, video, AGVenture, Fun on the Farm and the Executive Office. Interested students completed an application process at the beginning of the semester and were selected by both Show staff members and ALEC faculty.

Reagan Read, freshman agricultural leadership and development student, interned with Fun on the Farm.

“Fun on the Farm is a fun learning experience for children, teaching them how farmers grow crops and produce milk and eggs, among other things,” Read said. “I feel that our work is very important to help the Show. They often find themselves short on volunteers and the interns can help fill those spots. I have grown individually in a humbling and appreciative way. Working with families of soldiers one day and special needs children another day has really made me appreciate all that I am blessed with.”

The Texas Farm Bureau sponsors AGVenture each year, an area of the Show intended to help educate the public about the importance and variety of agricultural practices. Within the AGVenture area, Show visitors can see baby chicks hatch, different breeds of livestock, milking demonstrations and a number of agriculture-related exhibits. AGVenture interns are vital to facilitating the livestock Birthing Center and answering questions from visitors regarding the displays. Junior agricultural communications and journalism student Karina Farias served as an AGVenture intern for the 2013 show.

“Interacting with all the people and educating them about the benefits of the agricultural industry was the most enjoyable part of my internship,” Farias said. “Many people don’t know the difference between animals and as crazy as it sounds, I had people who thought a Charolais heifer was a giant pig and these were not children, but their parents. It teaches them about an important way of life that they need to be aware of.”

Senior agricultural leadership and development student Razzi Beyer worked for the Show as a Social Media intern. As technology has evolved and social media has become more prominent, the Show saw a market they needed to tap into and they create the Social Media internship in 2012. Beyer considers her internship experience to have been a great opportunity that will help her decide what to do after graduation.

“Since doing this internship I am really interested in looking for a job that would work with a company wanting to expand through social media,” Beyer said. “I feel like interning for Houston was a great opportunity and feel that others should really look into it. I wish that I would not have waited until my senior year to get involved with it.”

Returning for her second year as an Editorial Intern in the Marketing Department, senior agricultural communications and journalism student Dakota Fleming notes that each day is a new learning experience.

“When I went into my internship, I wasn’t very good at creating interview questions. As time went on, I improved and found the best way for me to conduct an interview to get the best story,” Fleming said. “To be able to intern at the Show gave me such an insight to the real world. In class, they tell you how things should be done, but you never get the chance to actually apply the information you learn. In the internship, I was able to write press releases, apply my knowledge of the AP Style Book, practice photography, talk to people who are shy and even learned to better myself as a person. Because of my internship, I can better prepare for the real world.”

Junior agricultural communications and journalism student Mallory Mobly completed two internships with the Show. She served, first, as an intern in the Executive Office and returned over Spring Break to work as a Video Intern.

“With the video production internship, I was responsible for filming certain aspects of the Show,” Mobly said. “Most of the shows I filmed streamed live on the Internet, so thousands of viewers could be part of the Show without physically being there.”

In the Executive Office, Mobly worked directly with Executive Committee Members responsible for the daily management of the Show.

“By being involved with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, one gets the opportunity to utilize his skills as well as improve them,” Mobly said. “The Show values the people who work there and always treats interns with the upmost respect.”

Jackie Hill, junior agricultural communications and journalism student spent one week interning in the Livestock Office. A former AGVentures intern, Hill seized the opportunity to see another sector of the Show through the Livestock Office Internship.

“The most enjoyable part of my experience was getting to meet and work with numerous committeemen and directors of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo including General Manager Joe Bruce Hancock,” Hill said. “I developed many skills necessary to work in a typical office-setting, which has better prepared me for my future career.”

Having overseen the Show’s Aggie interns for a number of years, Dunsford has witnessed the success of former interns and testifies to the value of the program.

“Students become more confident in their abilities,” Dunsford said. “They learn to think on their feet and deal with anything that comes up.”

Internships with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo are available annually to all students at Texas A&M University. To learn more about becoming an intern for the 2014 Show, contact the ALEC Department at 979-862-3001.

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